History shows gun-free zones are not the solution
Published: Friday, April 16, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 21:07
Three years ago this week, there was a shooting at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Three years ago next week, I started my first fundraiser in order to raise money for the victims of that shooting.In the years since, I have scheduled the Oregon State University College Republican's annual Second Amendment Week during the same week, not because of Tax Day, as Ben Price suggests, but because nothing has changed: There is still nothing stopping a "Virginia Tech'' from happening here at Oregon State University.
Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and Rita Mae Brown are all commonly quoted as defining insanity as "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." While there are arguments as to who actually said this first, the lesson of the quote remains the same: If one solution does not work, try another.
Recently at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, we saw a common solution used to curb mass murders on college campuses - making the school a "gun-free zone" - fail. This is not the first time.
Virginia Tech, Columbine High School, Appalachian School of Law, and, unfortunately, many other schools all had the same policy of "no guns on campus," yet all of them saw despicable acts of violence committed by armed madmen.
Since 1991, the year that the "gun-free zone" laws went into effect, there have been 74 school shootings, and all of these shootings were done in "gun-free" zones.
Add these to the thousands of shootings in "gun-free" churches, "gun-free" malls, "gun-free" cities (Chicago and, until recently, D.C.), and "gun-free" countries (England), and "gun-free" starts to look like open season for criminals - which is exactly what it is.
Would you put a sign up in front of your house that said "gun-free zone"? How about your bank? Would you let everyone know that your favorite security guard is unarmed? How about the police? Would you seek to disarm them, too? Some people, like Ben Price and Cate Hardy, who published her opinions last week, would.
Some people will not stop until every gun is deemed illegal. But, as the saying goes, "If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns." The ordinary law-abiding citizens will turn in their guns, and then the criminals will have free reign.
This is exactly what happened in Britain after the 1997 gun ban. According to an October 2009 article in the Telegraph, gun crime has nearly doubled since the 1997 ban. (This is the second half of the statistic that Hardy threw around last week.)
While Britain's homicide-by-gun rate is low, it always has been. Its overall crime rate, however, has only been going up since their gun ban. The reasoning for this is simple: If you are a criminal and suddenly citizens have no guns, you are suddenly able to have free reign and commit whatever crime you want. I mean, who is going to stop you? The police, who almost always arrive on the scene after the crime has already been committed?
Out of the 50,000 people in Benton County, over 5,000 of them have concealed handgun licenses, according to the sheriff. Why, if 10 percent of this county is armed, do we not see more shootings?
This is because we see injury and death from mass-shootings drop by 78 percent in states that changed their laws to "shall-issue" laws. There has never been a shooting, accidental or otherwise, at a school that allows guns on campus.
More children drown in their bathtubs each year than are killed by guns. Should we ban bathtubs? I don't know about you, but I argue that Eugene should remain the only city in Oregon that does not bathe. There is no evidence that points to gun control working; meanwhile there is tons of evidence that shows that it does not work.
Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers, cites Cesare Beccaria in his "Legal Commonplace Book": "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."
As Plato said, "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws."
You may note that I said that all of the 74 school shootings happened in gun-free zones.
While this is true, it is contradictory to what Price said in his recent column.
He mentioned the Appalachian School of Law and said that guns were allowed on their campus. This is false. The Appalachian School of Law in Virginia did not allow guns on campus.
Furthermore, the shooter was not tackled by unarmed school kids as people ran away to get their guns from their cars. The two students, who Price mockingly suggested may have been running away from the shooter, were actually both law enforcement officers and were forced to keep their weapons locked in their vehicles due to campus gun restrictions.
After they retrieved their guns from their cars, they subdued the shooter with one other person.
Don't blame Price for misleading you, though. A Lexis-Nexis search done by statistician John Lott showed that only four of 208 news articles about the shooting mentioned anything about the two students with guns, showing just a speck of the media gun bias.
Speaking of misleading, in her article last week, Hardy suggested that guns in fact restrict our freedom, rather than protect it.
Thomas Jefferson proposed the clause "No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms" be part of Virginia's Constitution.
Aristotle said, "In a polity, each citizen is to possess his own arms, which are not supplied or owned by the state." In fact, it has long been common practice for those in power to restrict the right of their subjects to own arms - as long as slaves have existed, so too have rules that restricted their rights to own weapons.